July 26, 2017

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Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio | SLJ Review

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redstardel Rio, Tania. Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye. illus. by Will Staehle. 224p. Quirk. 2015. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9781594748035.Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio

Gr 3-6 –Warren the 13th would proudly welcome guests to his ancestral hotel, but his mentally absent Uncle Rupert and avaricious Aunt Annaconda have let the hotel molder. Twelve-year-old Warren cheers the arrival of a lone guest and the revelation that within the hotel lies a legendary treasure, the All-Seeing Eye. As Annaconda is revealed as a witch and Warren teams up with her apprentice, Petula, hordes of people rush the hotel, eager to join in the treasure-seeking. The mysterious bandaged guest, Annaconda’s witchy sisters, and the ancient tutor Mr. Friggs each have a part to play in the hunt, with surprises for readers. Warren and his loyal retainers follow clues from an old journal to preserve the Eye from Annaconda’s sorcerous plans. A steampunk-hybrid-novel is the best description for this square-shaped tome with Gothic red-and-black illustrations and engravings. Staehle enhances his bizarre characters with varied layouts and the powerful pop of blood red accents. Del Rio uses smart dialogue, vivid imagery, and a two-column layout for a smooth, quick-moving read. Memorable details, like the cook’s giant pudding cookies and the backward writing that Warren must decipher, ground the fantastical setting and characters, as do the specific clues that observant readers can follow to solve the mystery on their own. Children who enjoy Brian Selznick’s heavily illustrated books will be at home with this offering. VERDICT A whimsical mystery with a lot of heart and spine-tingling illustrations, this novel will circulate as soon as children open it.–Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2016 issue.

Kiera Parrott About Kiera Parrott

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for School Library Journal and Library Journal and a former children's librarian. Her favorite books are ones that make her cry—or snort—on public transportation.

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